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Arlington, VA 22207
Fax: 703-228-2300
Friday, November 27, 2015


Counseling Program News
October 2015
Bullying Prevention 

Talk with your child

When you first talk with your child about bullying, be prepared to listen without judgment, and provide a safe and supportive place where your child can work out his or her feelings. Children may not be ready to open up right away as they, too, are dealing with the emotional effects of bullying and may be feeling insecure, frightened, vulnerable, angry, or sad. When your child begins to tell their story, just listen and avoid making judgmental comments. It’s important to learn as much as possible about the situation, such as how long the behavior has been happening, who has been involved, and what steps have been taken. Encourage your child to talk, and let them know they are not alone and you are there to help.

Make sure your child knows:

  1. It is NOT their fault. They are not to blame.
  2. They are NOT alone. You are here to help.
  3. It is the adults’ responsibility make the bullying stop.
  4. Bullying is never okay and they have the right to be safe.
  5. No one deserves to be bullied.
  6. They deserve to be treated with respect.
  7. They have the right to feel safe at school.
September 2015 
Diversity Awareness and Appreciation
Teaching Children About Diversity

by Christopher J. Metzler, Ph.D.

We are living in an increasingly diverse world, and this is a wonderful gift. Our children attend schools with children who are much different than they are. For example, more children are being raised by single parents, by same sex parents and in blended families. Many children are non-native English speakers and some are children with disabilities (both physical and mental).

The challenge for parents is ensuring that children learn to accept and respect differences, thus making them more productive adults. But, where do we start? Children don't come with instructions, but they do come with open minds. Much of what they learn about respecting differences comes from their parents. That being said, consider the following suggestions:

Start with us. Children listen to what we say as well as watch what we do. So as parents, we must deal with our own diversity deficits, so that we can lead by not just saying but also by doing. For example, one parent tells her children not to judge people by their color. The family lives in a majority white community and the children have had very limited interactions with blacks.

However, her children hear her telling friends that the blacks with whom she works are so lazy that she has to do their job and her job. If we are to teach our children to make decisions that are not based on stereotypes, then we must do the same. In this example, the people may in fact have been lazy. However, it is not their blackness that makes them lazy - they are just lazy. "Do as I say but not as I do" does not help children become more accepting of differences.

Get out of our comfort zone. For all the talk about diversity, Americans still segregate ourselves into fairly homogenous communities. Teaching our children to accept differences may require that we use the power of the internet to learn about differences, that we seek out cultural activities that are out of our community and explore the strength and value in diversity. It is not enough to simply visit cultural events, eat ethnic foods and thus learn about differences from a voyeuristic point of view. Instead, we must make a deliberate effort to get out of the familiar and show our children we mean it. Accepting differences should be how we live our lives.

Listen and respond. When children ask about differences, start by listening to the question they are asking and the language they are using. If in asking questions about differences they are using hurtful or stereotypical language, explore with them why such language is hurtful. Explain in an age-appropriate manner why stereotypes don't tell the whole story and are divisive.

Don't be blind to differences. Parents often tell me that they want their children to be "difference blind." This is both unrealistic and misses the point. Children will notice that Jouain has a different sounding name or that Yasmeen always wears a head scarf to school, or that Rajiv eats foods that look and smell different from what they eat. They will have a natural curiosity about this. As parents, we must help them appreciate and learn about those differences, not pretend that they do not exist. The question is not whether differences exist; it is what message we are sending by teaching children to be "blind" to differences. Unless we as parents are willing to help explain to children what seems strange or different to them, we will never be successful in teaching children to understand and appreciate differences.

Avoid political correctness. Parents who teach children to be politically correct when interacting with differences are making the situation worse. Rather than teach children the correct labels or names for people, let's teach them that differences are only a part of who we are. It is not the total of who we are.

Parents teach children how to brush their teeth, to comb their hair, to be responsible and to be successful. We do so by introducing and reinforcing behavior that helps achieve these goals. We should do the same when it comes to appreciating diversity. It is only then that we can move from tolerance to acceptance.

June 2015
Personal Safety
            In June, our counseling program focuses on Personal Safety. That means all students will have a lesson from the counselors on an age appropriate topic that will help to keep them safe. Here is an excellent article on Personal Safety from Kidpower.

What Adults Need to Know About Personal Safety for Children  by Irene van der Zande

1. Personal safety means keeping your feelings and body safe if people act thoughtless, mean, scary, or dangerous.

Personal safety means being in charge of yourself so that you act safely towards others.

2. Violence against young people is a leading health issue of our time.

A study about violence against children entitled “Children’s Violence: A Comprehensive National Study” was released by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009. According to the study director and director of the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, David Finkelhor, Pd.D., “Children experience far more violence, abuse and crime than do adults. If life were this dangerous for ordinary grown-ups, we’d never tolerate it.” The study found that over 60% of the children surveyed were exposed either directly or indirectly to some form of violence in the last year.

3. Most of the people who harm children are NOT strangers.

According to the National Victims Center, 95% of sexual abuse happens with people children know. Of these, one third are family members – stepparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings, grandparents and parents. Two thirds are other people known to the child – neighbors, youth group leaders, teachers, other children, religious leaders and friends. Experts estimate that one in three girls and one in four boys will be sexually abused before they are eighteen years old.

4. Molesters will often spend up to a year cultivating a trusting relationship with a family, a school, a religious community, or a group of friends before they make their first move.

They will often start by systematically creating an emotional connection with a child, pushing the child’s boundaries and ensuring that the child won’t tell before they do anything that is sexual. This means that children who have skills for setting boundaries and getting help are less likely to be targeted by a molester.

5. Federal agencies estimate that there are 100,000 attempted abductions by strangers each year in the United States. About 2,000 children a year are kidnapped by strangers.

Although this is important for adults to know, it is not healthy for children to believe that the world is full of dangerous people called “strangers.” Instead adults can tell children that most people are good but, if we do not know them well, there are safety rules to follow.

6. One out of seven school children have either been victimized by bullying or have bullied others.

Most children have witnessed bullying. Bullying is harmful. Adults are responsible for noticing all forms of bullying and for taking action to make it against the rules.

7. Just telling children about the bad things that might happen makes them anxious.

Coaching children so they can be successful in actually practicing skills helps them to become more confident and capable.

8. Young children are very literal, and we need to be sure that they understand what we mean.

Telling children, “Never talk to a stranger” is untrue because we ask them to greet people they see as strangers all the time. Telling children, “Never let anyone touch your private areas” is also untrue because it is normal for adults to pat children, pick them up, and help them stay clean and healthy. This is why Kidpower focuses on using language that is clear, truthful, consistent, and positive.

9. Adults need to provide ongoing supervision to ensure the safety of the children in their lives and to keep LISTENING to children.

However, it is also important that children learn how to protect themselves by knowing their safety rules and following their safety plans. Most kidnappings can be prevented if children are able to be aware, move away from someone they don’t know, and check first with their adult. Most sexual abuse and most bullying can be prevented if children can set personal boundaries and be ask for help. Most assaults can be stopped if children yell and run to safety when they are scared.

10. Kidpower brings self protection and confidence to people of all ages and abilities.

Workshops can prepare adults to help children learn how to use their own power to stay safe. For more information, visit the web page at www.kidpower.org

May 2015 
College & Career Readiness

In May, our school counseling program is focusing on College and Career Readiness. That means that all Nottingham Knights will learn about postsecondary opportunities and  careers in their classroom lessons with the counselors. Elementary school is the perfect time for kids to start learning about careers because we know that children perform better in school if they understand how education affects their futures.

In elementary school, school counselors focus on career awareness and personal exploration. We help students:

o   Understand the connection between school and the world of work

o   Discover the broad range of occupations available

o   Connect the learning in school to situations in the real world

o   Start to picture themselves as workers

o   Develop their work-readiness skills, or the “soft skills”, that all jobs require like working in groups, organizational skills, problem solving, and leadership

At Nottingham, our Kindergarteners learn about workers in our school. First grade Knights explore the tools associated with a variety of occupations. Second graders delve into the six career paths. In third grade, students revisit the six career paths and make connections between play, school, and careers. Fourth graders learn about jobs long ago, jobs today, and jobs of the future. Fifth grade Knights explore their personal strengths and career goals.

Parents can help their children learn about a variety of careers and how their educations connect with future jobs. For example, you can talk about how veterinarians use math to calculate the amount of medicine animals need, fire fighters need to be good at working in groups, and video game designers must have good writing skills and the ability to accept constructive feedback. More tips from America’s Career Resource Network are below (http://acrn.ovae.org/parents/careeraware.htm).

How to Talk to Your Child about Careers

Relate your child's interests to adult activities. For example:

  • If your child likes art, discuss how adults use art to design houses, clothing, magazine ads, movie sets and even toys. Explain that people also use art when they draw cartoons, arrange flowers, or take photos for magazines and books.
  • If your child likes to be outdoors, talk about outdoor careers like landscape architecture, forestry, archaeology, construction work, marine biology and commercial fishing.
  • If your child is very social, discuss how people who like to talk and work with people may choose to work as a teacher, a lawyer, a customer service representative, a receptionist, a hotel manager or a convention planner.
  • If your child likes to help people, talk about different ways he or she can do that in a career such as nursing, medicine, athletic training, family counseling or childcare.
  • If your child loves math, you may want to talk to him or her about becoming an accountant, a computer programmer, an engineer or a statistician. You should also remind your child that almost all careers use basic math, so it is a very important skill.
  • If your child likes to keep others safe, talk to him or her about a career as a police officer, a forensic scientist, a detective, an investigator, a parole officer, a security guard or a bailiff.
April 2015
Bullying Awareness, Prevention and Intervention
Our theme for classroom lessons this month is bullying awareness, prevention, and intervention.  In kindergarten and grade 1 we focus primarily what bullying is and what it is not.  We also introduce the need to report all bullying to a trusted adult.  In grade 2 we begin to introduce the school-wide formal definition of bullying from the Steps to Respect program developed by the Committee for Children. Bullying is unfair and one-sided.  It happens when someone keeps hurting, frightening, threatening, or leaving someone out on purpose. In grade 2 we talk about bullying as being a big deal when a person or group or being mean on purpose more than once.  In grades 3-5 we focus on the role of the helpful bystander or "upstander" in preventing and responding to bullying. In the upper grades we also talk about bullying with technology.
March 2015
How to Help Anxious Children 
Anxiety is normal and useful until it becomes excessive and detrimental.  If your child is worrying too much you can establish a set "worry time." Depending on your child's age this could be scheduled for 10-20 minutes early each evening.  During the worry time you will be available to discuss your child's worried thoughts and scared feelings.  When your child brings up a worry any other time, postpone by saying I will be glad to discuss that during worry time if it is still bothering you then.  Being able to postpone worry is a powerful tool that will allow your child to gain control over the automatic negative thoughts that are feeding his/her anxiety. 
There are 2 cautions for parents: 1) don't over reassure; and 2) don't let your child avoid the thing/person/event/etc. that is causing the anxiety.  Instead parents need to help the child develop tools to cope with anxiety in a positive way.  For more assistance check out one of the books below, borrow one of the Family Resource Packs on this topic, or make an appointment to see one of the school counselors, the school psychologist, or school social worker. 
For more information:
Anxiety-Free Kids, by Zucker, offers parents strategies that help children become happy and worry free, methods that relieve a child's excessive anxieties and phobias, and tools for fostering interaction and family-oriented solutions.
You and Your Anxious Child, by Albano, has moving case studies and brings much-needed hope to families, helping them shape a positive new vision of the future.
Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, by Chansky, shares a proven approach for helping children build emotional resilience for a happier and healthier life. This book was revised in 2014.
February 2015
Kindness Matters 
Our theme for classroom lessons taught by the counselors this month is kindness.  Nottingham will be participating in Random Acts of Kindness Week February 9-15 (For more information see https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/rak-week).  The main message of the lesson is being kind makes the giver happy, the receiver happy, and even those witnessing the acts of kindness occurring happy.  In the lessons we encourage the students to express gratitude and show kindness to people who do things for them every day (examples, the custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, teachers, etc.). In the older grades we discuss compassion which is acting on empathy be showing kindness.  In fifth grade we link kindness and integrity. Please model and encourage your child to spread kindness - there is a ripple effect to a single act of kindness. 
December 2014
Creating More Realistic Gift Expectations For Your Child
from the American Counseling Association
The holiday season is a time of giant expectations for young children. Kids face enormous marketingrts from every front about the toys they “must have” this year.
Even adults get affected by all the advertising. We may find ourselves fantasizing about football games on
that giant screen TV, or looking great in that new sports car.
Of course, as adults, we usually can put such fantasies aside as we remind ourselves that our lives have
limits. But for a young child, it’s much harder to accept parents' practical decisions and budget limitations.
That fantasy about how much better that “hot” new toy will make his or her life is very real.
This happens because young children have the ability to move from reality to fantasies and dreams much
more easily than adults. Our life experience has taught us that allowing dreams to run wild for too long
increases our chances for disappointment when we face the reality of our everyday lives.
But kids are programmed to spend a lot more time in their fantasy worlds and to see all their dreams as
realities that are possible. It’s all part of normal human development. This ability to play and imagine is the
root of creativity.
Belief that a particular toy will help them live out their fantasy is very strong for young children. Your
adult reasons why their request can’t be met will have little meaning or impact. Saying, “That toy is too
expensive” may just make the child cling harder to the fantasy of how wonderful it would be to have it.
Rather than fighting the request, try allowing your child to enjoy the fantasy by showing you understand.
Saying, “That really does look like a great toy,” or asking “What do you like about that toy?” or “What would
you do if you had it?” allows the child to keep the dream alive without your giving in to the demand or just
saying no.
By not resisting the fantasy you allow your child to return to reality at his or her own pace, and you avoid
feeling guilty or being responsible for a broken dream. Then, when the passion for the toy is not as high, try
having a calm discussion about why getting that particular toy is not a good decision. Your goal is to bring
your child back to realistic expectations slowly but surely.
"Counseling Corner" is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions to
ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org
September 2014
August 2014

Extracurricular Activities for Elementary-School Students

After School Activities Can Relieve Stress

Children enrolled in elementary school can usually handle around two to four activities per week depending on the child. You may be able to find a variety of activities to choose from, depending on your child's interests. Below is a list of some extracurricular activities for elementary students.

  • Sports. Enrolling your child in sports-related activities, including dance, soccer, basketball, softball, and a host of other activities, will obviously help your child engage in physical exercise. Participating in physical exercise will help her alleviate stress, build self-esteem, and stay physically healthy. Additionally, your child can learn to be part of a team and learn the attributes that a good teammate possesses.
  • Music. Students that take music lessons for a year increase their IQ an average of two points over students who do not, as reported in the Monitor of Psychology. Children will also learn valuable time management skills as they learn to juggle practice sessions, not only at school, but at home.
  • Martial Arts. Children who study martial arts, whether it is karate or tae kwon do, learn mental and physical discipline. Martial arts promote physical wellness through building muscles, coordination, and balance. On the other hand, mental stability may be achieved through breathing and energy manipulation exercises that are often an important part of martial arts training.
  • Volunteering. You and your child can volunteer at a community organization that she believes in. This will help your child understand that everyone can make a difference, no matter her age. Your child will also learn that she is part of a larger community and that everyone should lend their support and help to a cause they believe in.
  • Nottingham's own after school enrichment classes.
Now is the time to start figuring out what after school activities would best suit your child(ren).
Adapted from  http://www.kidpointz.com/parenting-articles/elementary-school/extracurricular-activities/view/extracurricular-activities-elementary-school-students








Last Modified on October 10, 2015